When doing my research on this area, which I thoroughly enjoy doing, the Centrovalli train line comes up again and again as the highlight of many traveling to this region. Some went so far as to say it was the one of the most romantic train rides in Europe.
It didn’t take much arm twisting to get me on that train. Leaving Locarno, the train twists and turns through charming towns, across the mountain valley sprinkled with the grand river, waterfalls and vineyards, until it emerges in Domodossola, Italy. The journey takes about two hours and does not disappoint.
Domodossola’s old city is almost Medieval; it feels very, very old. It utterly delighted me as we stopped for a coffee in the piazza. You could see the horses and carriages of a time long ago, if only in your imagination.
Today, the city bustles in that way that Italian towns often do. Everyone seems to know everyone, and the piazza was filled with much meeting and greeting, many with their dogs in tow. Newspapers are still read here, and returned to the cafe’s newsstand. Little children skip about while Mom or Dad talk to someone they know.
One little girl sat dutifully in her cafe chair with her face buried in her smartphone playing a game, her father having to remind her to look up and greet the townspeople who had stopped by to say hello. So time has not completely escaped the region. But sitting there even just watching, you felt a part of something — what was it? Community? A simpler time? The charm of Italian cafe life? All of the above, maybe. But a smile spread across my face as I watched, thinking that if I were a writer of fiction, I would have plenty of fodder here.
But our train would soon be departing, so we needed to pay our bill and be on our way, leaving this little place nestled in the mountain valley only a memory in our minds.
Upon returning “home” to the land of the Swiss franc, life by the pool sounded like a great idea, and so we remained in the pool and the surrounding gardens right through dinner. I spent the remainder of the night on our balcony as I wrote and sketched, time for la dolce far niete. Time. (Sigh.)
To be continued…